Direct from the sinister avenues and bloodthirsty roadways of Canada, an aspiring Metalcore band by the name of FRONTLINE are trying to scrape their way to prominence. Occasionally punishing and catchy, this head-banging Quebec quartet’s third album, “The Gas Tank Incident,” is more posturing and chest-beating than an actual combination of jaw-tucked strikes. Sure, this’ll get the pit moving, but the way FRONTLINE appear content with crawling through the broken shards of the past, you’ll probably end up with broken fingernails instead of broken bones.
Succeeding a rather lackluster first three tracks, Jekyll morphs into Hyde when “L’horizon Devient Noir” and “As Daylight Comes” present songs that are more aggressive, Thrashy, and hard-hitting. The album then continues to bob at the whim of the band’s undulations, mixing less-than-imposing Hardcore moments with trudging, if not entirely generic, Metalcore breakdown sections that never appear to change tempo nor sound too different from the next. The band uses the battering collision of down-tuned single-note riffing and double-bass hammering rather effectively, and it’s not a rare occasion that you’ll find your heels playing rhythm to FRONTLINE’s onslaught, but the album’s shroud of semblance and Hardcore petulance eventually wears on the listener.
“The Calling” proffers an accessible opening ditty that eventually grooms itself into another breakdown, and it’s this fluid transition and the band’s ability to meld destruction with melody that allows this album to intermittently succeed. Although the penultimate track “Judgment Day” may be the heaviest song on the album, the opening vocals, inviting its mass of listeners to prepare themselves, is more sophomoric than anything. This admonition does little other than raise anticipation before subsequently squashing it; never fulfilling its grand pronouncement.
Perhaps no track works as well as the last one, the fraternally-titled “Frontline Crew.” It’s straight-forward and absurdly insecure, but what it carves across its chest is appreciated and amplified in a welcome and conclusive detonation. An ode to their fans and well-wishers, it’s more of a Hardcore anthem than a Metalcore hybridization.
Although FRONTLINE’s “The Gas Tank Incident” will certainly find more naysayers than eager followers, the album is an easygoing and safe passage into Metalcore waters. If one can tolerate the annoying Hardcore shouting that partner up with the album’s majority roaring, the album may have its merits for wandering lost souls.
Me(n)tal Note: An odd sample of a demonized Anneliese Michel can be heard during the album’s title track.
(Online June 18, 2011)